01
Dec
11

Hassan, The Slave, and the Jug

Yesterday we were discussing the difference between the word السماء and السماوات in the ayaat [57:21] and [3:133] and while he was explaining the meanings of the 2 ayaat, Ustadh Nouman expanded further into the next ayah of Surat Al Imran, 134, and told us a story from the life of Hassan (RA).

الَّذِينَ يُنفِقُونَ فِي السَّرَّاءِ وَالضَّرَّاءِ وَالْكَاظِمِينَ الْغَيْظَ وَالْعَافِينَ عَنِ النَّاسِ ۗ وَاللَّهُ يُحِبُّ الْمُحْسِنِينَ

Those who spend [in the cause of Allah ] during ease and hardship and who swallow anger and who lovingly forgive the people – and Allah loves those who do ihsan/good.
……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………
Hassan, The Slave, and the Jug

Hassan (RA) had  a slave and he asked the slave to pour him a glass of water.  The slave dropped the jug, which fell on his foot. The slave sees that Hassan (RA) is upset, as is only expected.  In order to diffuse the situation, the slave quotes part of the above ayah, “who swallow  anger” and then Hassan says immediately “I swallowed my anger.”  So the slave thinks that this is as good of an opportunity as ever, and the slave continues to the next part of the ayah and says “who forgive people” and then Hassan said to the slave, “I forgive you.”  The slave persists and completes the ayah, telling Hassan (RA) that Allah loves those who do good to others” (also a meaning of “ihsan”).

And then Hassan said “Go, you’re free.”

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

This beautiful story from the life of Hassan (RA) made me think about a few points, which I will discuss below.

First, look at the level of Islamic education that was not only available but attained by all people in society.  The slave, from the lowest possible status in society, was the one who had this knowledge of the ayah so down to the point where it was the slave himself who reminded Hassan (RA) of this ayah.

Second, notice the immediacy of the practical attitude that the sahabi had towards the Qur’an.  They learned it and applied it in their lives and they knew it to the point where it simply popped into their minds.  They didn’t just keep the Qur’an on a shelf wrapped in a pretty cover, or even memorize it and carry around a pocket-size mushaf…they actually lived by the Qur’an.  It was internalized so much that it was the first thing that would come to their minds.  How many times in our own lives has there been an instance, any instance, in which an ayah pops into our heads?

Third, the Qur’an was more than just a theory for them, it was practice.  As soon as the slave reminded Hassan (RA) a part of the ayah which is describing the people of Jannah, he immediately acts according to Allah’s descriptions of these people.  This is an example in which “We hear and we obey” does not even explain fully the level of submission that these people had towards their Master, Creator, and Sustainer.  We spend hours, days, weeks, months, even years, to finally come to the point where we are ready to accept something that Allah has commanded us to do in the Qur’an.  Now look at the example of Hassan (RA), as soon as the instance presented itself in which these 3 things could be applied (swallowing anger, pardoning people, and doing good to others) came, he applies them without a second thought!  And Hassan (RA) doesn’t just go halfway or shoot for hitting the minimal, he strives to maximize and excel.  Sometimes we think, at least I’m covering my hair, who cares about dressing in loose-fitting clothes; or I’m praying the 5 fard prayers on time everyday, doing the sunnah and nawafil prayers are too much to ask.  Look at how far Hassan (RA) went– he freed his slave.

Fourth, observe the relationship between the slave and Hassan (RA), especially Hassan (RA)’s incredible humility.  Firstly, Hassan (RA) does not explode when the slave drops the jug on his foot.  Imagine that was you and a waiter just spilled a jug of water on you, let alone drop the whole thing on your foot.  What would our reaction be?  How angry would we be?  This is not just a waiter, this is his slave.  Second, Hassan (RA) is so humble that he is actually able to listen to the slave.  Imagine again a circumstance between a parent and a child who’s at the college age.  The parent is doing something and the child decides to advise them in a certain way according to something they’ve studied or an understanding that they might have.  How willing would the parent be to listen to the child?  And even if he listened, how much would he listen?  Especially if the child had just committed an offense against him (like dropping a jug on his foot).  Or imagine this situation between the president of the MSA and a freshman, or the masjid board and some poor, zealous teenager in the Youth Group, or even a ruler and a peasant.  Would we expect any of these people to respect what the lower person advised them or reminded them of?  No, we wouldn’t.  Yet we see Hassan (RA) listening to his slave.  It makes me not only think about how down to earth he must have been, but also how earnest he was to please Allah that it in the end didn’t matter WHO was delivering the message of Allah.  Hassan (RA) looked past the person and focused on the content.  Many times we will refuse to listen to someone because of our supposed superiority over them or because they have wronged us in some way.  Our pride will get in the way of us listening to others and cut ourselves off from benefiting from them, whether they are good or bad people and have treated us well or poorly.

I pray that I will one day soon be at the level where I have a grasp of the Qur’an like the slave and the submission, passion to strive for excellence, and humility of Hassan (RA).  This story really showed to me a concrete example of how difficult it would be to find a person who qualifies for all 3 qualities of swallowing anger, lovingly pardoning others, and doing good to others and in turn how difficult it would be qualify for a such a high level of Jannah.

May Allah make us of those people.  Ameen.

Please share this post if you enjoyed the story!

Missing the beach. And missing SoCal. And missing the loved ones back home.

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1 Response to “Hassan, The Slave, and the Jug”


  1. 1 HK
    December 10, 2011 at 3:06 am

    Jazak Allah khair. An excellent reminder!


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